Posts Tagged ‘listening’

The way the sunshine warms me
through my coat, through my clothes,
that is the way I want to listen to you—
want to listen so closely I feel
your words permeate anything
that covers me, listen so closely
to your thoughts and fears and hopes
that they slip in and touch me.
When you are quiet, it is as if the sun
has gone behind a cloud.
I want to listen, too, to that—
to know the shadows of your silences.
Even then, there is so much
you are saying. I think of how,
on cloudy days, too, my skin
becomes brown. I want to understand
you—not just to listen but to learn,
not just to learn but to open to you,
to let you see how it is you change me.

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Tonight I invite in the snow-covered field
and the towering ponderosa
with their bark that smells of butterscotch
and the thin winter river capped with deep ice.
I invite in the dormant soft-leafed mullein
and the rabbit brush coruscated by mice.
I invite the hungry mice.
I invite it all into my being—
fling wide the doors of my heart that somehow
forget to stay open.
I invite in December’s chill and the vast blue sky
and the dark before the moon and the moon.
I invite in the braille of rabbit tracks
and I invite the rabbits that made them.
The jays and the chickadees and the grosbeaks.
The dried sedges and the evergreens.
I don’t want to play favorites.
I want to be open to the all of it—
want to know the truth of how
it is already at home in me—
the thistle seeds waiting for spring,
the badger, the spider, the wind.
Every thing and every being.
What is not my teacher?
Let me make of myself a body spacious enough
for an inner circle in which all may speak.
And let me listen. With my whole being
let me listen—to what is seen,
to what can never be seen.
Every day, the earth sends thousands of invitations
for us to meet this world.


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What did you want to hear
when you knelt at his grave?

After you spilled your own words
into the afternoon shade,
what did you think you might hear
when you listened?  

By now you know the gift of listening
is greater than the gift of sound.
By now you don’t expect his voice.
You know my voice by heart.

I am not the sound of loss,
but the sound of infinite presence,
which touches equally
the living and the dead.

And I am what holds you as you speak.
I hold you as you say nothing at all.
In your listening, you join me
in the most intimate of conversations.

You rise. Together, we walk to the gate
then through the gate,
and long after you’ve left the grave,
I am with you.

In fact, I am the one thing
that will never leave you.


How do we fall in love the world, even when it feels difficult? In this 20-minute poetry reading, I explore this in poetry, followed by a brief conversation and Q & R. Hosted by the wonderful Larry Robinson. If you want info about more monthly poetry readings, AND/OR if you want to be a part of Larry Robinson’s daily poetry list (sharing the poems of others) you can write him and ask to be included at Lrobpoet@sonic.net

Poems from the reading:
The Letter I Never Wrote to Pablo Neruda
Making Breakfast with Dolly
No Slam Dunk, But
Though I Knew Love Before
It Comes Down to This
For the Living
You Darkness by Rainer Maria Rilke, tr. Robert Bly

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Long after our eyes adjusted
to the small, round beams of light
that shined on thick white columns
and reflected the rings of drips into shallow pools,
after we’d become accustomed
to the resonant dim,
at last we found a place to sit
and turned off our lights
and listened to the dark.
The only sound, the astonished heart,
persistent breath, and the drip,
drip, drip of stalactites doing their patient work.
How I longed to bring us all
into the cave where we are forced to forget
any differences the light might suggest.
How I loved the way my senses stretched out
to feel the other beating hearts.
Imagine we could do this every night—
could feel the other hearts in the dark,
all of them beating like our own.
Imagine no storms could touch us.
Imagine we forgot it could ever be any other way—
your heart, my heart, beating wild,
listening for each other.

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Quiet Connection

Any morning is a chance

to walk the same path

I have walked before

and listen. Listen

to the silence between

steps, between breaths,

inside joy, inside loss,

the silence that sometimes

fills in the cathedral of thoughts,

the silence that holds

all that is. Sometimes

the silence clings to a moment,

sticks to me,

like the lingering scent

of rabbit brush on the fingers,

like a favorite song

that won’t leave the ear.

The same path

is never the same,

and listening to silence

is always new.

Sometimes my own silence

helps me to hear

the silence of my loves

who are gone.

I could not have known it before,

how intimate it can be,

the communion of our silence.

how in these quietest of moments,

filled with nothing

but listening, open,

we meet.

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Unheard Of

While listening is the core of most of our communications … most people stink at it.

—Scientific American, “Now Hear This: Most People Stink at Listening!” by  Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson, May 3, 2013

Perhaps they lisp like tiny orange tongues,

each slender calendula petal

as it escapes from the bud

And dust, as it settles, I imagine it sighs.

I would love to hear the lulling of shadows

as they melt into dusk.

Do they shush the grating of crickets,

the buzzing of this body before I lay me

down to steep in night?

I have wondered about the spiny sound

that pinecones make when they grow

their prickles. And the tune of bones

when nothing hurts. And the blood in the heart

when we say goodbye—does it scrape?

Or shriek? Or mewl?

It is one thing to forget. It’s another

to never even know—to miss out on

the bluster of dandelion seeds,

the honeyed pitch of sunrise,

the hush inside the temple of the gourd.

It makes me want to listen

more closely to the world,

to clean out the ears of my heart.

To sit rapt with the stone that remembers

when it was red and molten. To attend

to the stretching of the root,

to the prayer of the sprout,

to the dew as it disappears.  

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In every conversation

there is a table made of listening.

Sometimes the tables are beautiful,

solid, clean—the kind

that can support anything

you put on them.

Sometimes, they’re like

the tv dinner trays

of my childhood—

a little rickety, but they’ll do

if what’s put on them is light.

Sometimes they’re so cluttered

that whatever’s placed on their surface

is almost immediately lost.

Let tonight’s table have a small vase of flowers

and a candle perhaps, nothing else.

May it be small enough we might

see each other’s eyes, might notice

every nuance of breath. Whomever

I am most nervous to invite,

may I invite them. And though

the tea is just a metaphor,

may I offer. May they accept.

Find this poem published in the amazing ONE ART POETRY

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Even as the snow was falling,

the birds in the branches

kept singing into morning,

easing their bright notes

into the thin gray spaces

between snowflakes.


There are days, imagine,

when the birds go unheard.

And it isn’t for lack of song—

the single note chirp

of sparrow, the bass of raven,

the chickadee’s hey swee-tee.


Some gifts come only

when we stay in one place,

come only when we are alone,

come only when we stop praying

to be somewhere else and instead

pray to be here.







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To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.

—Mark Nepo



Let me listen.

Let me not know what to say.

Let me receive the world

as it slurs and shrieks,

hums and whispers,

speaks and bleats.

Let me lean ever closer in.

There are walls I have built

in my ears. There is so much

I would rather not hear.

Let me listen.

Let me receive with wonder.

Let all be worthy of note.

Let me be witness, eavesdropper,

spy. Let me never pretend

to be deaf.

Let the world slip into me

and change me

as light changes a room.

Let me be silent, let me listen,

and in listening,

let me be new.




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I listen for the hidden wholeness, wisdom, and grace.

            —Wayne Muller



I’ve forgotten how to listen

for the hidden wholeness—

trained by the ring of the phone

and the morning alarm and

the unheard bells of the day

that say “go, go, go.”

I’ve forgotten how to be still.

To empty. To unexpect.


Today, though it is May,

the green world is covered

by snow. It’s one way the world

learns to unknow itself.


My teacher reminds me

how the deepest healing

can only take place in the quiet,

the still, the great awake.


I know she is right, but

it is the kind of knowing

that is too certain of itself.


As I walk, I open my hands

to let the snow land there.

I watch the flakes melt.

For a moment, I almost think

I can hear them. For a moment,

I forget who is doing the listening.




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